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CHADA weaves some flamboyant stories at Motley Hotel

Putting the quirk back into five star accommodation, CHADA has created a bespoke hotel experience of deliciously layered complexity.

CHADA weaves some flamboyant stories at Motley Hotel

With a location in Richmond – a place now gentrified and with a spotted history – the design team has embraced the story of the area, with CHADA conceptualising their framework around its textile manufacturing history. As such, the two shop frontages of the original building have lent their history to the new hotel interior.

“There’s a particularly lovely story: one of them was a tea room, the other a Miss Mary Parker’s, which is a costumier who made costumes for the dress-up parties of Melbourne’s bourgeoise,” says Juliet Ashworth, CHADA Partner and Creative Director. Compounding this is a strong tradition of tailoring throughout the district, including the iconic Pelaco building, which manufactured men’s shirts and was the go-to brand for generations of Melbournians.

Weaving (pun intended) the concept throughout the project CHADA’s most overt reference to dressmaking is realised in the inhouse cafe, Ms Parker. Here, the ceiling is given over to tailoring lines, scissors, patterns and fitting instructions.

“It was really important to tell these stories and not just allude,” says Ashworth. As such, the motif is compounded with lighting designed to resemble hanging threads and irregular loops of LED, while the table base comprises a pair of a large industrial vintage sewing machine wheels. By inserting these motifs high and low, the middle section, in keeping with global trends, is free for contemporary tiles to take centre stage with layered patterns and colour jostling for primacy.

The double height lobby atrium (Jackson Clements Burrows Architects) is a long thin space that CHADA has split with a ramp to one side and seating to the other. A large graphic representation of a tiger at the end of the hall anchors the room while speaking directly to local culture.

“We wanted to represent the tiger in quite a glamorous way, that obviously speaks to the [AFL] football team which is so beloved of Richmond,” says Ashworth. It is in fact quite beautiful, with gold on black clearly depicting a tiger – and, for those not familiar with the team, an artwork in its own right.

Related: CHADA’s Pentridge Hotel prison conversion

“It’s a great reference to Melbourne’s fashion pedigree,” say Ashworth of the incredible artworks throughout the lobby and in the rooms. Commissioned from Persian fine art and fashion photographer, Mohammadreza Rezania, the images are wholly contemporary, exceedingly quirky, bright, strong and memorable. Framed with large padded fabric surrounds and timber detailing on one wall, and against a wall of huge stitched detailing on another, the portrait images are a far cry from establishment and very much in keeping with Australia’s fashion capital.

The same wow factor of photography reappears in the guest rooms, with a suite of images, the Bird Series, by London-based fashion photographer, Mudita Aeron. Here, however, they are head-to-toe images at full wall size. Set against a subtle palette of textural nuance and interesting surfaces, the pairing is alive with colour and glamour. Moody and Melbourne-like, the base tones are realised through interesting finishes.

For example, the walls are covered with a Prince of Wales check, while the wall behind the large and luxurious headboard is a natural stone veneer that “references the raw background of the area,” as Ashworth describes. Comprising a very fine veneer, the natural silica the surface, when lit, gives a gentle shimmer to the whole room. “But,” adds Ashworth, “the main feature in the room is that artwork, with a lot of different artworks across the hotel. So, if you go into one room you will get one artwork and then the next time, you will get another – but they’re all strong and very punchy.”

Fabric patterns are similarly a hero throughout the hotel with bespoke takes on hound’s tooth, Prince of Wales, Glen, argyle, plaid and so forth explored as wall coverings, carpet and upholstery. “In putting the materials together, we loved the juxtapositions – playful while reserved, and tailored with a touch of frippery. We stayed true to the story every step of the way,” says Ashworth.

The bespoke hall carpet, for example, is a pale grey-on-grey check with a larger dark grey, orange and pale orange check running across the top: “These strong splashes of flamboyant colour are all about the costumier, Mary Parker: she used feathers, lacing… she had all kinds of beautiful decorations and embellishments on her costumes that people would wear to balls. So, we wanted to bring an element of that playfulness and that kind of decoration to the design,” says Ashworth.

Furnishings are bespoke with curved lacquered cabinetry (with coloured interiors and leather pulls) adding a further layer of luxury to each room. So too do the bathrooms, where narrow ochre tiles, deep grey terrazzo, white marble and large curved mirrors have been cleverly arranged for optimal space.

Walls lined with photographs of draped suiting fabrics, overt stitch work, surprising quirks, an abundance of foibles, glamorous moments, exceptional lighting and a celebration of Melbourne’s garment district… what more could you want! Motley is all this, plus a lovely experience of deep luxurious glamour and fun.


Courtesy CHADA and Motley Hotel

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